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  • US Department of Defense(WASHINGTON) -- There could be an "opportunity for talks" between the United States and North Korea, Secretary of Defense James Mattis said Thursday, if North Korea halts its nuclear tests, development and exports.Speaking to reporters during a trip to visit U.S. Northern Command and the North American Aerospace Defense Command, Mattis said that "as long as they stop testing, stop developing, they don't export their weapons, there would be opportunity for talks."But on Thursday, Chief Pentagon spokesperson Dana White gave a briefing in which she could not speculate on an apparent sudden pause in North Korea's nuclear activities. "Our policies remain to have the verifiable, irreversible denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula," White said. "So it's a diplomatic effort. We'll continue to support our diplomats and ensure that they can negotiate from a position of strength.""I think it's perilous to predict anything about what North Korea does or doesn't do," she added. "But we're continuing to monitor the situation."Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
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  • Ben185/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW SOUTH WALES, Australia) -- More than 1,500 pounds of cocaine, worth an estimated $186 million, were seized from a yacht in the state of New South Wales, Australian police said.Three men were also arrested in Australia as part of a multi-agency investigation into drug trafficking, according to the Australian Federal Police.Investigators tracked the yacht as it traveled from the South Pacific bound for New South Wales. When it reached Lake Macquarie, in New South Wales, authorities boarded the vessel and arrested a 68-year-old man, police said.A 47-year-old man was taken into custody at a hotel in the nearby Warners Bay area of Lake Macquarie, and a third man, 63 years old, was arrested at a home in nearby Islington, according to police.When police boarded the vessel, they found “a large commercial quantity of cocaine concealed within the hull” -- believed to amount to 1,543 lbs. of cocaine with an estimated potential street value of $186 million, police said.Forensic officers are continuing to take apart the boat, as well as examine and test the cocaine, according to police
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  • claudiodivizia/iStock/Thinkstock(PARIS) -- The fallout from the Harvey Weinstein scandal has been reverberating far beyond the United States’ borders, and in France, where male chauvinism is ingrained in the culture, the allegations of sexual misconduct have inspired women here to speak out.Reports of rape, sexual assault and sexual harassment in France rose 25 percent in October compared to the same month a year ago, a spokesman for the French interior ministry told ABC News.In the wake of the #MeToo hashtag started by actress Alyssa Milano in the United States, French women invented a hashtag of their own to speak up about sexual harassment.#Balancetonporc, which translates to “Expose your pig,” went viral as thousands of French women posted stories of inappropriate sexual behaviors and abuse. According to the French research institute Odoxa, 335,300 tweets with the hashtag #balancetonporc were posted in just five days. Seventeen thousand of them were testimonies of sexual aggression and harassment.“In recent years in France, we have seen female journalists and politicians speaking up about sexual abuse,” Alice Debauche, an associate professor of sociology at Strasbourg University who specializes in violence against women, told ABC News. “But what we are seeing is unprecedented.”The fact that famous actresses kicked off the Weinstein scandal has resonated in France, Debauche said.“Women feel like they know these actresses by watching their movies and seeing them on the cover of magazines. There is sentiment of proximity,” she said. “Women identify themselves to actresses much more than to politicians, intellectuals or anonymous females.”The recent increase in reports of sexual assault and harassment show that French women are trying to change cultural norms.“Filing a complaint is always an obstacle for victims,” Debauche said. “It shows that they are feeling empowered to come forward after the campaigns on social media.”According to Claire Ludwig, a member of the French feminist organization “Stop Street Harassment,” there is definitely a connection between the rise in reports and the numerous sexual misconduct stories of the past few weeks.“This demonstrates that we are on the right path,” Ludwig said. “Fear is switching from the victim’s side to the aggressor’s.”In a study published last year, the French Institute for Demographic Studies said an estimated 62,000 women in France are victims of at least one rape or attempted rape each year. Additionally, the study said that around 580,000 women are victims of sexual violence every year in France.“Authorities need to extend this ongoing cultural debate through information, prevention and education campaigns," Debauche said. “Otherwise it might be short-lived.”The massive wave of sexual harassment and assault stories in France is having political and legal repercussions, too.French President Emmanuel Macron said during a television interview last month that he had begun the procedure to strip Harvey Weinstein of France’s highest award, the Legion of Honor. “His actions lack honor,” Macron said.The ongoing debate in France amid the Weinstein scandal might also lead to changes in the law.Marlène Schiappa, France’s minister for gender equality, wants to fine men for catcalling women in public.A task force of legal professionals, policemen and politicians are working to define street harassment. The proposed law is expected to be presented next year.“The creation of a legal framework to denounce street harassment is a victory for us,” Ludwig said. But she believes that the new law will be very hard to enforce. “Sexual harassers will have to be caught 'in the act' by police officers in order to be fined,” she said. “Is the government planning to put a police officer be
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  • Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The Trump administration plans to allow hunters to import trophies of elephants they killed in Zimbabwe and Zambia back to the United States, reversing a ban put in place by the Obama administration in 2014, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service official confirmed to ABC News Wednesday.Even though elephants are listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act, a provision in the act allows the government to give permits to import these trophies if there is evidence that the hunting actually benefits conservation for that species. The official said they have new information from officials in Zimbabwe and Zambia to support reversing the ban to allow trophy hunting permits."Legal, well-regulated sport hunting as part of a sound management program can benefit the conservation of certain species by providing incentives to local communities to conserve the species and by putting much-needed revenue back into conservation," a Fish and Wildlife spokesperson said in a statement.This change only applies to elephants in those two countries but questions about using game hunting to generate money for conservation efforts also came up during the controversy after Cecil the lion was killed in Zimbabwe in 2015.The government has not actually announced this policy change yet but it was reportedly announced at a wildlife forum in South Africa this week, according to Safari Club International, which filed a lawsuit to block the 2014 ban.It's unclear how the current political situation in Zimbabwe could affect this decision, but a blog post from the president of the Humane Society points out that poaching has been a problem in Zimbabwe over the years and that the hunting industry there faces corruption issues.A notice regarding this change will be posted in the Federal Register on Friday with more specifics on what new information justifies the changes.The finding applies to elephants hunted in Zimbabwe on or after January 21, 2016, and on or before December 31, 2018, and elephants hunted in Zambia during 2016, 2017 and 2018 for applications that meet all other applicable permitting requirements, according to Fish and Wildlife spokesperson.Savanna elephant populations declined by 30 percent across 18 countries in Africa from 2007 to 2014, according to the Great Elephant Census published last year, which put their remaining numbers at just over 350,000.The elephant population declined six percent overall in Zimbabwe but dropped by 74 percent within one specific region. Elephants saw "substantial declines along the Zambezi River," in Zambia while other areas of that country were stable, according to the census.The Fish and Wildlife Service has been talking with wildlife officials in Zimbabwe since the ban was announced in 2014. Since then, Zimbabwe officials have stepped up efforts to combat poaching, established a system to report financial benefit from American hunters, and provided more information on how officials establish hunting quotas, according to the text of the federal register notice that will be posted Friday.The census reported around 82,000 elephants in Zimbabwe. Wildlife officials set annual quotas limiting hunting there to 500 elephants in different areas.Elephant hunting has been banned in Zambia several times over the years due to declining population size but was re-established in 2015 after surveys found a larger population in some areas. Zambia is home to some 22,000 elephants, according to the census.Tourists can hunt elephants on private game ranches or specified areas in Zambia, many of which are on the outskirts of national parks. Zambian officials also carry out anti-poaching efforts and manage elephant hunting through permits and quotas, according to the Federal Register notice. In 2016, 30 elephants were allowed to be killed there as trophies but the government reported that only 12 males were killed, according to the notice.Fees paid by hunters are also used to fund the countr
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  • Tokarsky/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A newly discovered Earth-sized planet that "could potentially sustain life" is poised to become Earth's closest stellar neighbor in a cosmic "blink of the eye," scientists at the European Southern Observatory announced in a press release Wednesday.Ross 128 b is an exoplanet currently located 11 light-years from our solar system, but it is moving closer and is predicted to become Earth's closest stellar neighbor in 79,000 years, scientists said. It is currently the second-closest temperate planet to Earth, after Proxima b.Every 9.9 days, Ross 128 b orbits a red dwarf star known as Ross 128. Ross 128 is relatively quiet, cool and has just over half the surface temperature of the sun, scientists said, which could make Ross 128 b conducive to life. The star Ross 128 is part of the constellation of Virgo."Many red dwarf stars, including Proxima Centauri, are subject to flares that occasionally bathe their orbiting planets in deadly ultraviolet and X-ray radiation. However, it seems that Ross 128 is a much quieter star, and so its planets may be the closest known comfortable abode for possible life," ESO scientists said in the press release.A research team at the La Silla Observatory in Chile used the High Accuracy Radial velocity Planet Searcher (HARPS) to locate Ross 128 and Ross 128 b. Their full findings were published in the scientific journal Astronomy and Astrophysics on Nov. 8.More research is needed to determine if Ross 128 b has all of the conditions to sustain life, scientists said, and they plan to use ESO’s Extremely Large Telescope to explore the planet's atmosphere."While the scientists involved in this discovery consider Ross 128b to be a temperate planet, uncertainty remains as to whether the planet lies inside, outside, or on the cusp of the habitable zone, where liquid water may exist on a planet’s surface," scientists added.ESO also released a video about the new planet's significance Wednesday. Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
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